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Prajakta Potnis

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1980, Thane, Maharashtra, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

Prajakta Potnis has emerged as one of the most sought after artist in recent times. Potni's works mainly dwell around the subject of decay and degeneration but as a part metamorphosis and transformation. She works with mundane objects that help her create a repertoire of the material, social as well as psychological nature of contemporary society.

Education

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai

Film Appreciation Course, Film & Television Institute of India (FTII)

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LIFE AND WORK

UNDERSTANDING Prajakta Potnis

Urban Anxiety in the works of Potnis

The works of Potnis has an evident presence of an urban dweller; the experience of urban life, with its complexities, frustrations, dilemmas and paradoxes, urban life has become the core of Potnis’ works. She critically approaches her own experience of living in a city like Mumbai, how the city is fast expanding vertically as horizontal spaces have decreased a great deal. Her works deal with the experience of an urban inhabitant living and managing his/her life every day, where enclosed spaces are created to secure the lives but it eventually creates a second skin that restricts the interaction of the internal and the external world.

For instance a curtain is used to create a sense of privacy as we try to avert our gaze from the spaces of our neighbors. A curtain on a bare wall, not enclosing a window, mocks the need but gives a visual re-assurance to a room that does not have windows, with the possibility of a connection to the external world. Hence the life enclosed in between the four walls might have all the artificial comforts but creates a claustrophobic space for the mind.

Prajakta Potnis, 6:19 pm, 2012, acrylic & dry pastel on paper, 30 x 40”

Displacement of people and changing landscape

Urban spaces in India are fast developing because of the demand and economic pressure due to population growth and development projects. But the physical space is not expanding as the pressure is increasing hence architectures and the whole urban landscape is constructed and conceived in a way that creates spaces for the demand but compromises the aesthetics of a structure. Blocks of buildings are coming up without any concern about the environmental health which is also causing chronic issues that damage a building structure. A kind of decay is caused by all these issue that Potnis herself witnessed as being an inhabitant of an urban space. Her works brings out her own experience and perspective about the issue of how a physical space is changing and how it is causing other effects to the social structure.

Prajakta Potnis, Small Sculptural Piece, 2012

The metaphorical presence of Death and Decay

The idea of death has engaged artists for ages. Being one of them, Prajakta has addressed it in her own way through her own understanding of mortality and life. Her works often have a metaphorical presence of death and decay that pervades an object. But death is not the end but a new beginning, where a life cycle ends a new one begins. Her works bring out the complexity of social psyche of existential anxiety that often an urban dweller faces amidst the unnaturally expanding urban spaces which is enclosing the breathing space and creating a mass claustrophobia. Her works often depict fungus infected objects, slowing decaying and getting close to the death. This end paradoxically suggests a new revival rather than permanent disappearance.

Prajakta Potnis, Fibrosis, 2008, acrylic and dry pastel on paper, 3 x 42”

The presence of Mundane Objects

It is very interesting to see that mundane objects like fan, tube light, dustbin, cement block,  mosquito net often find their way in Prajakta Potnis’ works as a metaphorical reminder of the urban dwellers often entangled in between the changes and shifts that an urban space passes through in different time periods. Prajakta juxtaposes different objects and creates a kind of context. The stagnant rain-water drains give rise to mosquitoes making it necessary to find relief inside mosquito nets. These nets become a space within a space, an enclosed personal spaces within the cramped houses. They define our place of rest but also restrict our movements confining us in a delicate prison. “They are of my work breeds between the intimate world of an individual and the vast world outside separated only by a wall. It resides within the four walls of a household where one’s life grows/ decays, wherein the ‘still’ walls transform as a veil and also as organic separations between the inside and the outside world. The images echo a certain kind of numbness felt in everyday living,”claims Prajakta.

Prajakta Potnis, Knittng sleep, 2012, cotton mosquito net, threads, needles, 36 x 72"

Bibliography